National Adoption Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau that seeks to increase national awareness of adoption issues, bring attention to the need for adoptive families for teens in the U.S. foster care system, and emphasize the value of youth engagement. The initiative began as National Adoption Week in 1984, as proclaimed by President Reagan. President Clinton then proclaimed the first National Adoption Month in 1995. In recent years, we have focused our efforts on adoption for teens because we know that teens in foster care wait longer for permanency than younger children and are at higher risk of aging out. Teens need love, support, and a sense of belonging that families can provide. Securing lifelong connections for these teens, both legally and emotionally, is a critical component in determining their future achievement, health, and well-being.
Each year, we focus our outreach and awareness efforts on a new adoption-related theme to help support professionals working each day to find permanency for children and youth in foster care in their communities. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “Small Steps Open Doors.” Pursuing permanency for teens can be challenging, but small steps along the way can make all the difference. Taking the time to talk with and listen to youth can help you earn their trust and help the youth become more engaged in their own permanency planning. It can also create an environment where youth can be honest and ask questions. Youth are the experts of their own lives, so let them partner with you in permanency planning and make decisions about their lives. (Child Welfare.Gov)